Thais' spending to celebrate Valentine's Day and Makha Bucha Day - which this year fall on the same date - looks set to slow, reflecting the slower economy and the impact of the political unrest in Bangkok, according to a survey by the University of the T
Thais are expected to spend only 4.7 per cent more than last year, totalling Bt3.36 billion, for Valentine’s Day, the lowest growth in eight years, while the increase for Makha Bucha Day will be 4.4 per cent to Bt2.89 billion, the lowest growth in four years.
Combined spending on these two special occasions, which this year both occur this Friday, will be Bt6.25 billion.
"People are reluctant to spend their money on concerns over the unstable political situation. Some have also suffered a loss of income due to the unrest, prompting them to save their money and spend less on special events," said Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the UTCC’s Economic and Business Forecasting Centre.
Based on a survey of 1,200 respondents, people are also highly worried about rising prices, as well as the prolonged political disorder.
For Valentine’s Day, the survey’s respondents will spend an average of Bt1,813 each. Sources of funds will be mainly their monthly salaries at 39.5 per cent, 30.2 per cent from bonuses, and 29.6 per cent from their savings.
As the political chaos drags down spending, the university projects that gross domestic product will grow by only 3 per cent this year, down from a previous forecast of 4-5 per cent.
Meanwhile, the UTCC also suggested that government agencies work urgently to solve the problem of overdue payment to farmers, as their plight could seriously affect GDP growth. Farmers account for almost a third of the population, and many have been caught in the middle as the caretaker government is stymied in its efforts to raise interim cash to maintain the troubled pledging programme.
Thanavath suggested that the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives consider providing soft loans directly to farmers by using their pledging documents as collateral.
He said the caretaker government had no authority to seek loans itself to cover the overdue payments, but other units such as the BAAC should consider some relaxation of their soft-loan regulations to help farmers. He pointed out that the BAAC still had strong reserves and high liquidity.